All-female Catholic college reverses policy admitting men who identify as women

Wikimedia Commons/Rantemario
Wikimedia Commons/Rantemario

An all-female Catholic college has reportedly backtracked on a new policy allowing biological men who identify as women to enroll in the school. 

President Katie Conboy and Board Chair Maureen Karnatz Smith of Saint Mary's College in Notre Dame, Indiana, stated in an email Thursday that "the Board has decided that we will return to our previous admission policy."

A screenshot of the email was shared online Thursday by an alumna Clare Anne Ath, who works as government affairs manager for the pro-life organization Human Coalition. 

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"I just received an alumni email detailing the decision & would like to thank Bishop Kevin Rhoades, the @diocesefwsb, and the generations of faithful Catholic SMC alums who were prayerful on this matter and made their concerns known," Ath tweeted. 

The institution caused a stir last month by moving to allow males who identify as female to enroll starting in fall 2024. 

"Although this has been a challenging time for our community, we believe that the College should continually grapple with the complexity of living our Catholic values in a changing world," Conboy wrote in her email, which was separately obtained by The National Catholic Reporter and The Daily Signal.

Conboy acknowledged the impact of the community as a factor in the decision, adding that "the position we took is not shared by all members of our community."

"Some worried that this was much more than a policy decision: they felt it was a dilution of our mission or even a threat to our Catholic identity," she continued. "Moreover, we clearly underestimated our community's genuine desire to be engaged in the process of shaping a policy of such significance."

"As this last month unfolded, we lost people's trust and unintentionally created division where we had hoped for unity. For this, we are deeply sorry."

The student newspaper, The Observer, reported the Board of Trustees voted to amend Saint Mary's non-discrimination policy to say that admission will be for undergraduate applicants "whose sex is female or who consistently live and identify as women."

"We are by no means the first Catholic women's college to adopt a policy with this scope," Conboy wrote in an email earlier this year, as quoted by The Observer.

"In drafting the language for this update, I have relied on the guidance of the Executive Team and others to ensure that our message is not only in line with best practices for today's college students, but that it also encompasses our commitment to operate as a Catholic women's college."

Critics of the change include Ath, who questioned online if the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend had responded to the situation.

"Just found out my alma mater @saintmarys, an all-women's Catholic college, will be accepting BIOLOGICAL MEN starting next fall," wrote Ath. "This decision is blasphemous & a complete rejection of the Church and [its] teachings on gender and sexuality."

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